Last Friday night we had the Chikwata 263 experience, the unique Punk-Mbira band from Zimbabwe. Hosted at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe‘s Cafe the Sanctuary; the poster promised an acoustic version of the band.
Unlike other bands that follow the book, Chikwata 263 showed off their rebellion, kicking the show off later than planned. The smallish crowd that had filled up the Sanctuary were seemingly big Chikwata 263 fans and waited without complaint.
Thus began a night of the unusual as the extremely rule bending and crazies of a band rocked the night. Their performance was full of sing-alongs; from the playful ‘DuDuMduri’ to the sacred ‘Mhondoro’. The lead vocalist made a scene, a white dude with a wide Shona vocabulary belting away like a rock star he is.
In the absence of the bass guitarist, the three-man ensemble of Hector Mugari on the sacred Mbira, Tomas Brickhill on lead vocals plus guitar and the wild drummer Othnell ‘Mangoma’ Moyo. Chikwata 263 performed to their billing with a wicked sense of fun.
At some point, I thought they were drunk and decided they were. Regardless, everyone in the Cafe was dancing recklessly to the funky sounds of punk coupled with spiky guitar chords fused beautifully through the Mbira. This created a rhythmic melody that spread through the gallery. True to my suspicions they would, strangely, take pauses to buy drinks for themselves and members of the audience; this became the order of the night.
In close to two hours of music, had transformed into the unchartered punk territory.
Watching them perform the new songs in the coming album turned the atmosphere, more for the die-hard fanatics. The acoustic show provided the audience, a small and appreciative crowd – with a new twist of their old favourites and songs to expect in their upcoming album called ‘5 Dombi paDoor’.